Friday afternoon is at an end.
When the Consulmar ferry appears on the horizon, off Ponta Anchaca and the island of Rubane, a small crowd is already waiting for it, adjusted to the port and the dirt road that precedes it.
A multicolored fleet of box motorbikes fills the front.
Owners and employees of hotels and inns, a few with identification signs, wait and compete for passengers coming from Bissau.
As almost always happens with the traditional canoes and ferries that serve the archipelago, the “Bijagós I” comes to the rescue. Installed as comfortably as possible, dozens of passengers adjust to the load.
The rest follow on the upper deck. They are the first to step onto the jetty and greet those waiting for them.
The arrival of “Bijagos I” results in the city’s major routine event. There were times when it was held twice a week. They explain to us that the pandemic brake, but also the wear and tear on the port, led the authorities to reduce frequency by half.
The ferry will dock in three times. The most obvious consequence of this reduction is visible and even from the boat to the high cement pier to which it was attached.
Bubaque, the most Accessible Portal for the Bijagós
In the surrounding Bijagós, the reception of visitors is given to lodges belonging to foreigners, with daily rates above the possibilities of the humblest.
Like these islands, Bubaque offers a natural vastness, with a lot of tribal, surrounded by stunning beaches with views and glimpses of neighboring islands.
Whether or not you have family there, Bubaque, the city and the island are the Bijagós accessible to well-to-do Guineans.
In terms of urbanization, only Bolama compares to Bubaque. Both have their own legacy of run-down colonial buildings.
Distributed over a grid of streets of which only irregular traces of cobblestone or tarmac remain.
The Landing Carried by the Ferry “Bijagós I”
We wandered among the passengers, attentive to the peculiarities of the inevitable frenzy. Passenger disembarkation.
And the aggravated, the delivery and collection of your belongings.
Employees from Consulmar and the port, assisted by residents and passengers, transfer TVs, pallets of wine boxes, sacks of rice, chickens and even goats to land.
With the sun on the horizon, two huge traditional canoes moor alongside the “Bijagós I”, also crammed together.
One of them carries a motorcycle with a newly acquired box.
A group of men carry her by weight, up the stairs, to the service counterparts.
It's been three quarters of an hour. Some passengers fromBijagos I” just moments ago they recovered their belongings.
Like so many others on board, a couple arrives wary of unnecessary expenses.
They hold buckets.
In one of them, chickens come with their paws tied.
We asked them if they were going to be on the weekend menu.
“Look, we're still not sure if it's going to be cafriela or chabéu.
Which will end up on the plate, that's for sure!” confirms the lady, intrigued by the interest we dedicated to them, but in a good mood.
End of the day. Party night in Bubaque
Dusk surrounds Bubaque.
From the top of a bare baobab tree, a flock of vultures enjoys the ultimate action. Watch as the crowd fades into the streets and alleys of the town.
The Moon rises.
It is reflected in the channel that separates Bubaque from the neighboring island. It highlights the silhouettes of the many oil palms that embrace Rubane.
During the Football World Cup, held for the first time in winter in the northern hemisphere, Bubaque has guaranteed television viewing.
With a festive reputation to maintain, nor with the old disco "Online” offline the animation would stop there.
We watched a game on the terrace of the Mango Eco Lodge by Myriam Barbier, the Gallic hostess who surrendered to the charms of the Bijagós, who exchanged the refinement of the Côte d'Azur and other parts of France, for the genuineness of Bubaque.
The following morning, we began an eagerly awaited walk.
Bubaque reveals its raw beauty.
We helped chase away three cheeky goats that were feeding in the Mango Lodge garden.
Several others dot the bumpy lane ahead, right next to the ruins of the Governor's building, given over to the woods, but which is still home to a busy blacksmith.
The Colonial Urban Grid of Bubaque in Cerne das Bijagós
The core of colonial Bubaque and, even today, its aged administrative buildings spread out around there, among mango trees and coconut trees.
We spot the town hall, the Djan-Djan radio station, the regional government office and, opposite, that of the military authorities, both signaled by their own Guinea Bissau flag.
What used to function as a square now appears as an open field, furrowed by convenient trails.
One of them passes next to the small church, the local playground and one of the several grocery stores run by Mauritanian immigrants.
After the rainy season, for a while, the old square also serves as a meadow. Whenever we cross it, we come across cows, goats and sheep that feed on its vegetation.
Bubaque, Bijagós: a Christian-Animist Bijagó island
On Sunday mornings, the city's practicing Catholics gather there. Beautiful and yellow, the parish lacks the space to welcome all the believers.
When we pass by, the faithful who arrive, in their best clothes, but late, accumulate from the entrance to the outside. if still possible, in the shade of the trees that precede the temple.
On those days, it is a Thai priest who gives the mass.
The ceremony it conducts competes with other religious services: those of the Evangelical Church, the New Apostolic Church and the Shalon.
Colonized and evangelized on the margins of the continent, a good part of Bijagós and Bubaque, in particular, remain Christian animist domains.
Contrary to what happens in mainland Guinea Bissau, its mosques are smaller and the muezzins are not allowed to sing.
Even so, Mauritanians in the modest grocery stores and restaurants close their businesses at prayer times, when they join other observant Muslims in the requisite worship of Allah.
The Christian predominance of Bubaque is a Portuguese legacy that complements that of the colonial houses.
As we head towards the interior of the island of the same name and its villages of almost tribal organization, the animism of the Bijagós takes on a greater expression than that of Christianity.
In the coastal city, however, the Christian faith continues to prevail.
Bubaque in the Beginnings of the Portuguese Colonization of Africa
The first passage of the Portuguese through the Bijagós only took place in 1498, the year in which Vasco da Gama disembarked in Bubaque during his expedition to India.
Since the middle of the XNUMXth century, the Guinean coast has been explored.
From 1511, the number of slaves captured there increased from year to year, not long after, starting from the newly built fortress of Cacheu, the first colonial capital of Guinea Bissau.
The Bijagos formed, however, a resistant domain.
Spread through a labyrinth of straits and channels that capricious tides made treacherous. They were governed by tribal chiefs who were almost always averse to the intentions of the Europeans.
The Ephemeral Passage of Bubak through British Guinea
Until 1847, these remained at bay. That year, the British arrived in force. They attacked the main villages in the kingdom of Canhambaque, including those in Bubaque.
They tormented the natives in such a way that they forced King António de Canhambaque to sign a document in which he committed to bar Portuguese rivals from trading in the Bijagós.
Fast forward to 1853. The British had already annexed Bubaque and several other Bijagos.
The outcome of the Question of Bolama, dictated by Ulisses Grant, in favor of the Portuguese, definitively undid the project of British Guinea and its pretensions in present-day Guinea Bissau.
And the outcome of the Bolama issue that handed it over to Portugal
The British returned to Gambia where they had come from. The Portuguese, these, saw the coast free for expansion in the archipelago.
They decided to subjugate the Bijagó natives, soon, using cannon fire from warships.
Even so, the Bijagó resistance would only be defeated in 1936. Fearful of revolts, especially the most populous and powerful Canhambaque island, the Portuguese military authorities decided to install their headquarters in Bubaque. The strategy proved to be correct.
Thereafter, the Kingdom of Canhambaque remained under control.
Safe from the previously frequent indigenous attacks, the Portuguese colonists consolidated the new capital, with the arteries and structures that we continued to wander through.
From the historic center, we go along the back of the ruins of the hotel that it is said that former President Nino Vieira gave up building, on the way to Praia das Escadinhas.
In this seaside corner of the city, we come across a small traditional canoe yard, where carpenters and painters restore a portentous specimen.
Kids play ball.
Girls rehearse poses from any fashion show in their minds.
The sun goes down towards the Atlantic.
He says goodbye to four African oil palms that grow from a promontory that hides the West.
Qatar World Cup Matches and Bijagós Dances at Mango Ecolodge
We return, without haste, to the Mango EcoLodge.
That night, after the World Cup games, Mimi and Maio present a small cultural gala.
Children and adults perform infectious tribal dances.
The public rejoices. The one sitting on the terrace chairs. The one perched on the wall of the inn.
And even the one who resigned himself to listening, in the immediate vicinity.
For over two hours.
Always to the intense and warm rhythm of the Bijagós.
HOW TO GO:
fly with the euroatlantic , Lisbon-Bissau and Bissau-Lisbon, on Fridays.
WHERE TO STAY IN BUBACH
Mango Eco Lodge or Cajou Lodge Hotel
Reservations via Whats App:
+245 95 660 17 96
+245 96 663 33 29